Wednesday, May 12, 2021

Student device quality research

   Broadband access and speed aren’t the only technological concerns for students engaged in remote and hybrid learning. The quality of the student device itself also plays a key role, according to a new study, specifically,the age of the device and device specifications. Researchers looked at data from students using the same internet service provider and noted that throughput was actually lower in the case of students who had inferior devices even though they were on the same network.
   According to the report: “… [U]pload and download speeds during online classes/meetings can vary significantly by the age, type, and quality of device used. Students that were provided with older and less powerful equipment had an inferior experience than students with newer devices. Students that received newer devices with limited specifications (e.g., memory and processor) also had more challenges than students that were provided with devices with better specifications.”
   Some of the factors that impact the quality of the learning experience include, according to the report (all bullets quoted verbatim from the report):
  • Type and speed of processor
  • Amount of memory
  • Central Processing Unit (CPU) utilization
  • Number of applications running at one time
  • Quality of WiFi antenna and signal strength received
  • WiFi standard used and access frequency
   Beyond replacing devices or purchasing upgrades, there are steps IT departments can take to improve device performance, such as whitelisting the sites and services that deliver students’ at-home learning materials and online class sessions so that performance isn’t hindered by a network filtering product. The report also noted that data analytics are critical for assessing student device performance. 

Digital equity initiative. (2021) Student home internet connectivity study. CoSN.

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